Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, in case of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission v. Bates Taxi, Inc., Docket No. 20952, 1975.
James J. Rahner, with him Hickey, Azpell & Rahner, for appellant.
William T. Hawke, Assistant Counsel, with him Edward J. Morris, Counsel, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Mencer and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
Bates Taxi, Inc. (Bates) has appealed from an order of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) imposing a $1,000 fine for certain violations of the Public Utility Law*fn1 (Law), requiring the company to cease conducting business in a manner violative of that Law, and requiring the company to maintain its books, records, and drivers' logs so that gross revenues are accurately reflected and reported.
After a hearing on the complaint, which had been instituted on its own motion, the PUC made findings that Bates had: (1) transferred the use, control and operation of its taxicabs to one or more of its drivers by oral rental-lease agreements; (2) permitted its taxicabs to be driven by independent contractors who were not "employees"; and (3) failed to keep its records
so that gross revenues were adequately reflected. On the basis of these findings, the PUC concluded that Bates had violated Section 202(e) of the Law, 66 P.S. § 1122(e), which requires prior application to and approval by the PUC.
(e) For any public utility . . . to acquire from, or to transfer to, any person or corporation, including a municipal corporation, by any method or device whatsoever, including a consolidation, merger, sale or lease, the title to, or the possession or use of, any tangible or intangible property used or useful in the public service. . . . (Emphasis added.)
Bates was also found to have violated Rule 15, Part IV, of the PUC Bus and Taxicab Regulations:*fn2
Equipment, Ownership and Operation. Every vehicle operated as a taxicab shall be owned by and registered in the name of the certificate holder. No such vehicle shall be operated except by the certificate holder or an employee of the certificate holder. Taxicab operation and service shall be under the direct control and supervision of the certificate holder.
The complaint against Bates had been initiated by the PUC after it learned of a "guaranteed revenue" option given by the company to its taxicab drivers as a salary alternative to a commission consisting of a pre-determined percentage of gross fares. Under this oral guaranteed revenue agreement, each driver paid Bates seventy-five dollars per week and retained all gross fares. In addition, each driver electing the guaranteed revenue option agreed to maintain his assigned cab, paying for repairs out ...